08/10/10 — Youth, experience could be good mix for North Duplin

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Youth, experience could be good mix for North Duplin

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 10, 2010 1:47 PM

CALYPSO -- North Duplin returns a core group of players who either started or played part-time during the 2009 season.

Hugh Martin says that's a good starting point.

Just 29 players have suited up during the first seven days of practice at the Carolina 1-A Conference school. Martin has stressed conditioning since he anticipates putting at least eight two-way starters on the field.

"We want to eliminate as many two-way linemen as possible, but it's just not going to be possible," said Martin. "If we can develop some depth up there during the year, that's going to help us a lot. (In the) offseason, off season, we knew our line was going to be a key thing for us. The linemen have been here for skill development sessions.

"They've been a good group to work with, try to make themselves better and make us better as a team. Getting those guys in shape so they can play two ways has been a big part of practices."

Another part has been developing the younger players.

Of the 29 players currently on the roster, there are 18 freshmen and sophomores combined.

"The sophomores have been with us for a year and have a year in the weight room under their belt," said Martin. "They've improved quite a bit. The freshmen, several have been with us since early summer and have come a long way. A lot of them are new to the game.

"They haven't played before and are learning something new every day."

The Rebels return 13 lettermen off last year's playoff-qualifying team. Seven players who started at some point last season are back on offense, and six are back on defense.

North Duplin finished 5-8 and lost to Elkin in the second round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A playoffs. The Rebels were 2-7 before winning three of their final four contests.

Martin said he liked his team's work ethic.

But those morals needed a little pushing during Monday evening's live hitting session. The experienced players didn't mind squaring up and knocking each other around, while it took the underclassmen a little time to catch on through structured supervision.

The Rebels have three more days before Friday's jamboree at North Johnston. Martin's team will go up against Big East 3-A members Northern Nash and Southern Nash, Carolina rival Rosewood and Coastal Plains member Dixon.

The staff has some idea who will play where and could possibly switch some positions to suit personnel. The goal is to have players learn multiple roles and be accountable when they're in that position.

"I want see us being physical with the contact, that's going to be a key thing to see who will have that physical play," said Martin. "We need to get everything refined that we're going to be doing in terms of positions and the reps we want them to have there.

"You've got a lot of challenges trying to play a varsity schedule with 18 sophomores and freshmen. (But) that's what it is and we're going to do the best we can."

North Duplin opens its season Aug. 20 at home against Southside. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. at H.E. Grubbs Field.